Arriving in the dark at Longevity Wellness Resort didn’t exactly show it off to its greatest ability, but what it did do was provide an opportunity to appreciate the other sensual advantages of the retreat – the fresh air, and the total peace and quiet.
Built into the Monchique hillside, with (distant) coastal views and a predominantly forested skyline, the ultra-modern design of the hotel uses lots of natural light and oodles of space to create a seamlessly peaceful, and, dare I say it, ‘zen’ environment. As you walk through the glass front doors you pretty much want to drop onto your yoga mat and start meditating. That said, what is gained with the harmony with the great outdoors, is not lost in style. You might be spending your time on that yoga mat, but you will be doing it in the comfort of your own apartment-style room, and flawless, earth-tone interiors.
As the name suggests, the spa experience at Longevity is integral to your stay, that’s really the reason you come here. While all the expected decadence of massages, facials, and so forth are readily available, in a series of treatment rooms that are placed on either side of a pebbled pathway, through a glass door that opens up like a doorway to Never Never Land, the experience here is really about the wealth of knowledge including medical tests such as biophysical evaluations (looking at the amount of fat, water, and muscle in your body as well as calculating your ‘age’ in terms of your metabolic rate), nutritional evaluations, and extending into the realms of Ozone Therapy and Oxygen Therapy. Offering retreats that cater from detox, to stress, to anti-ageing, this is the place that describes itself as the first step to wellness, harping back to the traditional concept of spa, with a very modern make-over.
The food at Longevity will annihilate any preconceptions you may have had about the quality of healthy food. It is, simply beautiful. Fresh ingredients, sourced locally where possible, offering a catalogue of salads, fish, meat, dairy, catering to all dietary requirements, and with ample portions readily available, the only danger is that you could happily sit and eat all day. And have no fear, dessert is also on the menu, with the added bonus of a chef who merrily introduces apple strudel, lavender crème brûlée and so forth, with a smug smile that announces, ‘I even removed all the calories for you … nearly.’
Despite being only a 40-minute drive from Faro airport (the hotel provides transfers so you needn’t worry about how to get there), Longevity has a real sense of being a world away from anywhere – except for the occasional sound of a passing car. Monchique itself is around seven kilometres away, but if you don’t want to go quite that far to get a taste for local culture, there is a highly recommended restaurant that sits pretty much opposite the entrance to Longevity. Far and away the best thing about the location however, is the view from the hotel and on walks in the hinterland. It is, by all accounts, breathtaking.
Longevity is one of those places, that is a destination in its own right. Yes, it’s luxurious, in an understated way; yes, it is most definitely a holiday from the stresses, strains and saturated fats of every day life, but it isn’t the sort of place you would come on holiday and use merely as a base. This is definitely a health resort, whether you are interested in mind, body, soul, or a bit of all three. Not to take advantage of the knowledge, facilities and advice on hand, would most definitely be, a wasted opportunity.
– Go for a hike in the Monchique hills. Fitness trainer, Elliott, is on hand to put you through your paces in the morning for three hours, but the views make it worth it!
– Ask the chefs to explain a bit about the food on the menu – everything is a learning experience.
– Try heading to Portugal out of season. In December it is still 15 degrees, and extremely pleasant, especially for that aforementioned hike!
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